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Djam Karet - No Commercial Potential

Djam Karet - No Commercial PotentialThe name Djam Karet will be recognised by most serious prog lovers, even those who have yet to experience DK's unique instrumental style.  There is no time like the present with the release of this double CD which dips into the past and the present sounds of this unique band.

No Commercial Potential celebrates the band's 20th anniversary with Disc 1 being a re-release of their first album, No Commercial Potential, which was previously released on audio cassette back in 1985.  Disc 2, ...And Still Getting The Ladies, is a previously unreleased recording dating back a couple of years to 2002.

Djam Karet apparently translates from Balinese to mean 'elastic time, the hour that stretches', a meaning that fits in well with the music, and I in a good way.

To do what they do requires a certain frame of mind shared by all musicians involved, with a huge dollop of musical ingenuity and focus.  Both discs in this package consist of just three tracks each.  The tracks are essentially jam sessions (totally improvised on Disc 1) recorded with the band playing as one with no overdubs.  My own experience of jamming years ago always usually resulted in a cacophony of noise with individuals flying off doing their 'own thing' for a couple of hours until maybe we all finally found a groove which we milked painfully dry.  All good fun for those involved but far from great for those within earshot most of the time. Well Djam's jam style is nothing like that thank goodness.

While there is clearly a bundle of improvisation involved, the result here is coherent, almost scripted organisation.  Take Where's L. Ron? on Disc 1.  The track opens with a series of chimes, each fading with an echo and the semi-rapid plucking of a single note now and again giving a Floydish feel.  Five or six minutes in, the bass picks up in a Camel fashion, continuing whilst drums join in and the guys on guitar ad-lib with some nice licks and the groove is found.  Marvellous.

The material on Disc 1 was the basis for DK's early live performances and stands the test of time well, but Disc 2, in my opinion, is in a different ball park.  With 17 years between recordings, one would expect the guys to have honed their art to perfection, and this they have done.  Recorded digitally with just one stereo mic, which in itself is hard to believe given the sound quality, the output is polished.  The addition of synths on this Disc enhances the overall atmosphere allowing strange and subtle sound effects touching on the Ozrics.  The band has always been 'progressive' but Disc 2 sees more of an obvious prog and jazz element yet with the similar principle of starting a jam in a tentative delicate way and building upon that, as they say, 'in an accelerated time frame.

This double CD package (complete with 24 page colour booklet plotting the band's career) is an excellent place to start the Djam Karet experience and at $14.99 direct from the band, it's an absolute bargain.

Jem Jedrzejewski

Djam Karet


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